Author Kate Kingsbury
As friends, family, and guests gather at the Pennyfoot Hotel to share the joys of the season, Cecily Sinclair Baxter and her staff are hustling and bustling more than ever. Cecily’s friend Madeline arrives with her new baby and adds a kissing bough to the decorations. Cecily believes that the holiday couldn’t get off to a better start… But, after a footman and a new maid are seen kissing under the bough and then turn up dead afterwards, the downstairs staff is convinced a serial killer is among them…perhaps the mysterious guest known only as J. Mortimer. When Madeline’s baby disappears, Cecily desperately tries to find the child. If she doesn’t catch this killer in time, everyone’s cheer will quickly turn to fear.
GEMS: A cozy holiday murder mystery with a special cameo star character guest. Mistletoe and Mayhem is an easy read that is surprisingly light despite the occurrence of four murders. Out of politeness and not wishing to ruin the guests holiday, the staff of the Pennyfoot do their best to keep the unfortunate events secret. However, this proves to be difficult and soon rumors spread dampening the holiday cheer. In the good old fashion tradition of whodunit mysteries, the actual investigator is an idiot. If left up to him, no crime would ever be solved! Thankfully, Cecily has a keen eye and knack for detection and puzzle solving. It also doesn’t hurt that her good friend is gifted with a six sense. Together, they’re sure to solve the mystery by Christmas Eve.
FLAWS: Although the characters background are well-developed, the actual motive for the murders is glazed. I believe this is the result of trying too hard to not give away the culprit, but in doing so, decreased the suspense and ‘ah-ha’ moment. Looking back, there are parts/scenes of the story that are irrelevant. I assume they were included to throw the reader off the trail. Normally, I do not mind, but I felt this wild goose chase was rather benign and left me wondering why some of it was written into the story. I had a few, ‘Why am I suppose to care about this?’ moments.
Overall, an entertaining seasonal read. Good to curl up with and include on holiday reading challenge lists. Recommend checking out from the library, swapping with a friend — or scoring at the half-price bookstore. Rather light in mayhem, suspense and complexity.
Author Kate Kingsbury